Leading Temple Mount rights activists Yehuda Glick and Yehuda Etzion met with Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) Wednesday, to discuss the ongoing tensions over Judaism's holiest site.
The activists urged Shaked to intervene to ensure the rule of law was implemented on the Temple Mount – both against Islamist extremists who incite and carry out violence against Jewish visitors, as well as vis-a-vis the Jewish visitors themselves, who are currently banned from praying at their holiest site to due Muslim pressure, in violation of numerous court orders.
The meeting was also attended by religious and secular Israeli students from the "Students for the Temple Mount" organization. The young activists similarly asked Shaked to work together with Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) – whose ministry oversees the Israel Police – to assert the rule of law on the Temple Mount and ensure basic civil rights such as the freedom of expression and freedom of worship are upheld.
Following the meeting, Glick told Arutz Sheva that the state was fully able to ban the groups of Islamist women (known as mouribatoun) who were paid to harass Jewish visitors, but that the police were preventing it from happening for unknown reasons.
"If we're talking about racist chanting, the law allows for up to two years imprisonment," Glick noted, referring to the anti-Semitic chants often employed by mouribatoun and other Muslim extremists attempting to intimidate Jewish visitors.
The meeting followed an incident Wednesday morning, in which two Jewish Israeli youths were arrested on the Temple Mount after protesting against Muslim harassment and violence.
Jew are prohibited from praying or performing any acts of worship on the Temple Mount by authorities, with police claiming that allowing them to do so could trigger Muslim violence. In response, Jewish activists have repeatedly petitioned the courts to uphold their right to worship, noting that it is the police's job to uphold the law if violent extremists seek to undermine it, and not punish the victims at the receiving end of that violence.
Despite achieving several rulings in their favor, Jewish visitors are still subjected to the raft of restrictions – which also include severe limitations on the number of Jewish visitors per day – by a police decree. But while Jews are regularly arrested for allegedly praying at the site, Muslim extremists freely harass them in a bid to discourage Jewish visits, and are rarely prosecuted.
Jewish activists say the situation is the result of government "appeasement" of Muslim extremists, as well as the Jordanian government which has threatened to sever relations with Israel if Jews are allowed to pray at the site – which currently houses the Al Aqsa Mosque complex, situated atop the ruins of two Jewish temples.
"The fundamental responsibility to impose the rule of law on the Temple Mount lies with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who bizarrely refuses to deal with the issue and is not willing to (even) hear about it," one activist present at the meeting told Arutz Sheva.
"Meanwhile the Mount is run like the Wild West," he lamented.
Despite that fact, he said that activists expected the ministers – in particular Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who previously criticized his predecessor Yitzhak Aharonovich for his handling of the issue – to use their positions to push for change.
"We hope from the new minister, who before the elections criticized his predecessor's policies, to instruct the police to allow Jews freedom of religion on the Temple Mount, and to remove the inciters and paid Muslim agitators," he said.